By Greg Riddle
The Dallas Morning News
Several states canceled spring sports in the last few days because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the University Interscholastic League isn’t ready to join them.
The UIL doesn’t know if or when Texas high schools will reopen this school year. If they do reopen, deputy executive director Jamey Harrison said Sunday that the UIL still has plans “that would allow us to complete all of our state championship activities for this academic year, should that opportunity present itself.”
“We will communicate very quickly with schools what those plans include, what all the various deadlines will be,” Harrison said. “We will continue to stay in touch with the state legislature and the governor, the commissioner of education, all of those entities that come to bear on decisions about school closure. We’re ready to pivot this way or that, as needed, once we have more information from those agencies.”
Harrison’s comments came during the UIL’s medical advisory committee meeting that was held via videoconference. He cautioned that, “until we have more information about when schools may or may not be in session, it’s difficult for us to make any sort of final plans.”
Governing bodies in Nebraska, Indiana and Georgia announced Thursday that they were canceling high school spring sports for the remainder of the school year. California and Michigan followed with similar edicts Friday. Kansas, Oklahoma, Alaska, Alabama and New Mexico canceled their spring sports in March.
The Southwest Preparatory Conference, which consists of 17 private schools (16 from Texas and one from Oklahoma), announced Friday that is has canceled its spring season and spring championships.
But athletes at Texas public schools can still hold out hope of winning a state title this year.
That includes teams that qualified for the UIL boys’ basketball state tournament. The event began on March 12 in San Antonio, but after the Class 1A and 3A semifinals were completed, the remainder of the tournament was suspended.
For now, all UIL in-person activities are suspended until further notice. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week mandated that schools across the state remain closed until May 4. The season isn’t over for private school athletes in TAPPS, either. TAPPS announced Tuesday that May 4 is the earliest that its schools could return to practice.
Harrison was asked if there is a possibility that schools reopen in the summer.
“I suppose there is a possibility of it,” Harrison said. “I don’t anticipate make-up time in the summer. I think schools are fulfilling their obligations remotely, so I really don’t think that will happen in the summer. The biggest question is whether or not schools will go back during the regular scheduled academic year. I think there is growing skepticism that will happen.”
If spring sports are able to pick back up at some point, Harrison said that the UIL will allow schools an acclimatization period for practices to occur before competitions resume.
“We don’t know what those students have been doing in terms of physical activity during this part of the suspended school time,” he said.
The UIL medical advisory committee also discussed concussion reporting and recommended that next school year, Class 6A teams will continue to report all instances of concussions that athletes suffered in UIL-sponsored activities. The UIL’s original mandate just covered the 2019-2020 school year.